“Our opponent is willing to run a deep offense,” Delta head coach Mark Detweiler said after losing to Yorktown on Dec. 9. “We break down defensively and we foul and are still too reckless. We’re just not disciplined enough to win games like that.”
Almost three months later, the Eagles only gave up 16 points to New Castle through three quarters and defeated the Trojans 50-37 to become Class 3A Sectional 24 champions.
“They've worked hard to get here,” he said. “We've challenged this group in a lot of ways. I mean, it was a lot of work and they're so fun to coach because you can tell they’re tremendous basketball players and great athletes, but they know there are things that they've gotten in their own way at times. Just piecing together and getting them investing collectively to play together.”
The Eagles (17-9) had a hard challenge to face in the championship. They were playing New Castle (14-12) on their home turf. But right out of the gates, that did not matter to them.
“We played really good defense,” junior D’Amare Hood said. “We didn't come out of our zone which is really surprising. We thought we would have to come off of our man, but it just worked. We were firing off all cylinders with deflections and steals and our rebounding was tremendous.”
Hood was not wrong with that statement. The Eagles used defense to stall the Trojans’ offense. Delta had multiple steals in the first few minutes which led to execution on offense.
Junior Jackson Wors led the victors with 21 points. Even with his underlying shoulder injury, he scored over 20 (27, 20, 21) points in every sectional game. He had no issue going inside the paint, which according to him, was the game plan.
“We have so many athletic guys on our team,” Wors said. “We didn't get down and put the ball and pressure on them.”
This is the first time the Eagles have won a sectional championship since the 2019-20 season. To Detweiler, it came with hard work over a period of time.
There's a winning culture here,” he said. “You know, we've had a lot of guys invest in that winning culture. Families, coaches, you know. Man, we've been blessed with so many pieces that have made it happen and you don't get it with you know, with just players. You get it with all those pieces and we've got all that.”
To senior Blake Jones, he appreciates his underclassmen on how they have grown this season.
“We're clicking at the right time,” he said. “We're in March and we're playing together. We're playing together, we're gonna win a lot of championships. I mean, I'm proud of this team. I'm proud of our junior class for stepping up and playing together.”
But the Eagles do not plan on ending their season anytime soon.
“We're not done either,” Hood said. “We got regionals next week and we're rolling.”
The Eagles will return to the New Castle Fieldhouse once again for their regional game. They face Peru (17-7) next Saturday, March 11 at 7 p.m.
Contact Zach Carter with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ZachCarter85.